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'Unfriend' Named Oxford Word of the Year

Over the last year, social media and social networking have exploded. Hardly surprising then that 'unfriend' has been named as Oxford's Word of the Year. Now is probably a good time to remind you that just because it's hardly surprising, that doesn't mean it's not really, really depressing.

"Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary prepares for the holidays by making its biggest announcement of the year," reads a post on the Oxford University Press. "This announcement is usually applauded by some and derided by others and the ongoing conversation it sparks is always a lot of fun, so I encourage you to let us know what you think in the comments. Without further ado, the 2009 Word of the Year is: unfriend."

And the official definition for this new newfangled term?

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

According to Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program, "Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Just in case you were wondering, unfriend was up against some words that actually made sense, like netbook and ecotown.

Check out the full list of words below:

Hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

Intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

Netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

Paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

Sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

Funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

Zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Ardi – (Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

Birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

Choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

Death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

Teabagger – a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Brown state ­– a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

Green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

Ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Deleb – a dead celebrity

Tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Got a word that you think Oxford missed? Let us know in the comments below!

  • brendano257
    Those are all really great words for the sake of laughs. But as for serious words, it would be no fun if it was actually a serious word.

    Facebook isn't that bad, as long as your not addicted....
  • sstym
    "Netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory"

    Limited memory?
    So if I have a netbook and put a 4GB module in it, it ceases to be a netbook?

    How about "limited computing power"?
  • michaelahess
    Tramp stamp woulda been my vote.
  • gekko668
    Some of words are funny.

    Like the:
    Zombie bank
    Tramp stamp
  • slapdashzero
    So 2009 is the year of the portmanteau, eh? It almost seems a little bit sad, really, that there aren't really any "new" words per se, just horrible, seemingly teen-speak inspired mashups. The linguist in me weeps.
  • precariousgray
    The fact that "unfriend" has been made the word of the year can only be described as doubleplusbad.

    I, for one, do not welcome our Newspeak-speaking overlords.
  • imho, slang and technical terms really need to be in their own dictionaries. They should not be grouped together with words that represent the official American English language. The definition for 'unfriend' is a friggin' Facebook advertisement, for Pete's sake.
  • Zoonie
    'Teabagger' was something TOTALLY different in my book. :D
  • trinix
    Lol, never heard of unfriending someone. Guess remove friend is too long. Of course I don't use facebook, so it's probably because of that.

    Ah well, guess in 20 years, the only words left in the dictionary are words that didn't exist 10 years ago.
  • JMcEntegart
    Zoonie'Teabagger' was something TOTALLY different in my book.
    Yeah. No one told the boffins at Oxford that...